It seems a good portion of George Balanchine’s choreographic skill is manifested in visions of unattainable love. The subject, mostly explored as the endless search for the elusive muse, was one of his favorites. He expressed it with simplicity and great emotional effect in the Divertimento from “Le Baiser de la Fee.”
The ballet from 1972 has not been seen at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in decades, so it was a welcome sight on Friday night as New York City Ballet continued its residency here.
Megan Fairchild is the fairy who bewitches an artiste, danced by Joaquin de Luz. Both are marvelous, but Fairchild is at her very best.
The ballet, with music by Stravinsky and an ending with Tchaikovsky’s “None but the Lonely Heart,” belongs to Fairchild. She is the only ballerina who performs it and for good reason. She obviously cherishes the role — imbuing her enchanted fairy with a higher calling. Hardly fickle, she indulges in every second of the music, especially when she is with her chosen one.
As for de Luz, he once again proves how versatile he is. He can play any role, classical or contemporary. In this one, he reveals that he is not only a technical wizard but one with a large and tender heart.
The opening with the bevy of ballerinas is pretty. They disperse and de Luz enters, playfully pulling Fairchild along. The music softens and they run to each other, he holding her hand as she displays the beautiful line of her legs. And as she rests her head on his shoulder, she does not pose. Rather, she relishes the moment.
The tempo increases and he is alone. He is pensive but joyful, expressing his glee as he jumps and lands on bended knee. And then he runs off stage as if chasing a distant but obtainable dream.
The final section is the most moving. As the two embrace, the corps de ballet, one by one, comes between them. They part and then hug again. The corps then forms a diagonal line and the two become separated. They weave in and out, arms reaching out, to no avail. They find each other briefly, only to be destined to part. “Le Baiser de la Fee” is a poignant endeavor.
While Balanchine dwelled on the fantastic, Jerome Robbins had other ideas. In his “Moves,” he aims to train the eye to pay strict attention to the action on stage. Mainly, it’s because “Moves” is performed without music and hardly any lights. Robbins dubbed it a “ballet in silence.” Yet the dance is hardly silent as the dancers pound their heels and clap their hands. All of their movement is either sharp or done in slow motion. After each gesture, they freeze so the eye can take it all in.
It’s fascinating but not the kind of ballet one would seek out.
Robbins’ “The Four Seasons” is. This lavish ballet to Verdi is pure eye candy. Highlights include Sara Mearns and Philip Neal having a grand time in the spring and Daniel Ulbricht as the bouncy, fun-loving faun in the fall.